Hair dyes marketed in the US will no longer contain lead acetate, following a new ruling by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The agency has issued a rule banning the use of lead acetate as a color additive in hair dyes, following a petition that led to the FDA concluding that “there is no longer a reasonable certainty of no harm from the approved use of lead acetate in hair coloring products.”
“Today’s action is part of our commitment to protect Americans by reducing exposure to toxic elements and builds upon federal efforts to reduce exposure to lead,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, in a statement. “In the nearly 40 years since lead acetate was initially approved as a color additive, our understanding of the hazards of lead exposure has evolved significantly. We now know that the approved use of lead acetate in adult hair dyes no longer meets our safety standard. Lead exposure can have serious adverse effects on human health, including for children who may be particularly vulnerable. Moreover, there are alternative color additives for hair coloring products that consumers can use that do not contain lead as an ingredient.”
Lead acetate was originally permitted for use in hair dyes in the U.S. back in 1980, and was used in ’progressive’ hair dye products, but according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no safe exposure level for lead.
The FDA will exercise a 12-month discretion period from the enforcement date of the new rule, allowing manufacturers to reformulate their products.
Consumers wishing to avoid these products during that time can identify the products by the listing of lead acetate as an ingredient. Some manufacturers have already begun to reformulate their products with another color additive that does not contain lead as an ingredient, bismuth citrate.